Last Orders At The Spinning Disc: What's Happened To Record Shops?


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Record producer Pete Waterman examines the history of independent record shops, looking at why so many record shops have recently vanished and what the future holds.

Pete started out selling bootleg soul records in the basement of a Coventry clothes shop, before going on to work with artists including Dead Or Alive, Bananarama, Kylie Minogue, Steps and Westlife. This series features interviews with other moguls and artists who've spent time on either side of the counter, summoning up the sights, sounds and smells that create the strange magic of record shops.

In the first programme, Pete looks at how record shops have had a unique place in people's hearts. They have been social hang-outs, places of education, reflections of the changing world outside and shrines to music. The story that he tells encompasses sentiment, snobbery, commerce, technology, fashion and the enduring truth that most people can name the first record they ever bought.

Together with DJs Johnnie Walker, Annie Nightingale and Don Letts; music writer and former record seller David Hepworth; hip hop artist Dan Le Sac and Katrina Leskanich of Katrina and the Waves; Pete looks back at the wood panelled HMVs of the 20s and 30s, and at the Woolworths stores of the 50s and 60s. He also traces the explosion of the pop market in the 60s, through Liverpool's NEMS, where store manager Brian Epstein first heard the word "Beatles".

Pete investigates the snobbish appeal of the hipster outlets, and talks to Richard Branson about the opening of the first Virgin shop on London's Oxford Street in the early 70s. He explores how the "megastore" approach irrevocably altered not just the British record stores, but also the entire music industry.

The series tells the story of how record stores evolved from shops frequented simply to purchase recorded music, into so much more, and evokes a time when record stores were the nerve centre for fans, a hotbed of hype where the latest cuts could springboard local bands into national fame.

. Record producer Pete Waterman remembers the glory days of the independent record shop.

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Pete Waterman looks at the decline of the independent record shop and considers what the future holds.

We hear from Nick Todd, the quirky, straight-talking owner of Spillers in Cardiff. The world's oldest record shop still in operation, it has been hailed as a "lifeline" by The Manic Street Preachers and the place where they got their musical education. Local radio star, Frank Hennessy, explains how the shop has managed to ward off multiple closure threats and compete in a supermarket and download dominated market. Frequented by such acts as Super Furry Animals, Cerys Matthews, the Coal and the Zutons, Spillers remains full of character, and a true cultural institution which so far, locals have done everything to protect.

And Pete is awestruck as he enters Rough Trade East, the cult record store off London's Brick Lane, which makes him feel seventeen again. It's one of the last independent record shops in a city formerly teeming with them and, since its opening in 2007, it has bucked the trend and thrived.

Whether it's supermarkets, downloading, hikes in rent, or complacent store managers that are to blame for the decimation of our record shops, one thing's for sure: the survivors are fighting back. And if they continue to have their way then the record shop is here to stay.

. Record producer Pete Waterman finds out what the future holds for record shops.